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Sick Eksteen battles

A flu bug probably picked up on the flight from Europe to Yokohama, Japan looks to have cost Claude Eksteen dearly as he finished 18th in the strongest field yet assembled for any ITU World Championship Series race on Sunday.

“I ended up sitting next to a sick lady on the flight, she was constantly coughing and sneezing. I thought I had escaped it but when I woke up on Thursday I had a scratchy throat and that was it. I had obviously picked up the virus and was in bed the whole day Friday and Saturday trying to get rid of it,” said an upset Eksteen from Yokohama after the race.

Eksteen went for a warm up run on the morning of the race to test what his fitness levels would be like. “After a lot of deliberating I decided I would still start and would see during the race how I felt and take it from there.” The swim proved to be more comfortable than expected with Eksteen emerging from the 1,500m swim in 16min 50sec. It was on the bike that Eksteen started to struggle. “On the bike I could feel straight away though that I was not in good shape as I tried to push a little, the chest just burnt and was really tight. I new that the run would decide everything as if you are not 100%, then you would definitely feel it there…..and that I did.”

Eksteen decided to run positively on the 10km route and was lying in 10th with Yulian Malyshev of Russia. But 4km into the run the wheels came off. “The energy levels just dropped like a brick and I went backwards from there ending up in 18th position. It is very irritating as the Russian who I was running with (Malyshev) ended up seventh so who knows how things would have turned out if not for the virus. It was physically a really tough race as it was 35 degrees out there which made the going very hard, especially not being 100% physically fit.”

As debilitating as it was for Eksteen he still sees the good aspects to his race. “Its quite a disappointment but I know that the form is there so I just have to make sure that I get onto the start line at the World Championship Grande final on the Gold Coast in 3weeks time 100% healthy again.”

Eksteen finished 18th overall, with his different disciplines being timed at 16:50 for the swim, 40km bike ride (56:14) and 10km run (33:49) in 1:48:04. The race was won by Olympic Champion, Jan Frodeno of Germany in 1:44:31.

Vicky Van Der Merwe also made the trip to Yokohoma from her training base in Brisbane, Australia, but a stomach bug prevented her from starting the race. Likewise Anel Stewart, also based in Australia, struggled in her race, finishing 25th overall in a time of 2:05:17. Lisa Norden of Sweden crossed the line in 1:55:55 for the win.